In Search of a Value-Free Justification for Intervention in Cases of Genocide: Overcoming Issues of Relativism and National Self-Determination
Impelen, N.H. van
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How can the international community overcome objections to humanitarian intervention in cases of genocide? In this thesis I will attempt to link non-interventionism to radical relativism, a moral theory that considers the culture of an ethnic group the sole source of the validity of a moral right or rule. The argument goes that, as culture decides morality and cultural beliefs differ from society to society, genocide cannot be considered universally morally wrong.The extreme implication would be that even in cases of genocide outside actors lack the moral authority to intervene in the domestic affairs of societies. Starting for an overview on the history of non-interventionism, I will link the non-intervention norm to cultural relativism via the right to self-determination, another important norm in international relations. In examining the moral underpinnings of this right to self-determination I will conclude that they are based in radical relativism. Then, in order to overcome relativist objections to outside interference in internal affairs of societies I will attempt to provide a value-free approach to justifying intervention in cases of genocide, with the purpose of providing an argument for intervening forces to sidestep the non-intervention norm.